Along the eightfold path of spirit.
I've had obsessions and compulsions from as early as I can remember. At around age 6 or 7, I remember having dry and bloodied lips every day from licking and biting on them. I was nervous, afraid of failure, less-than-perfection, mistakes, and even asking for help. I was afraid, like I was taught to be, and maybe I was meant to be.
I was concerned that the phenomenon would snowball, that if I didn't get myself in check, I would know greater and unrecoverable pain as I grew older. And at every step along the way, I can attest that it did. Checking, correcting, affirming, moving things around on a website a pixel at a time in each direction back and forth, ruminating over the exact words and sentences I spoke earlier in the day or week.
Some intuition was meant to show me where exactly I should end up, and for the most part it did have me right where it wanted me. I could tell, at least, that certain attributes were enhanced by this inner voice, that if nothing else I possessed an unusual sensibility for the fiery details, much like so many people I admired so dearly, and still little about this voice would help me be at ease within myself. The energy that was required poured out from me, bleeding me of my own strength and mindfulness.
I wonder often whether I would want my children to have this sort of sensibility. The way many children are now raised, with such focus and procedural awareness, reinforces the same obsessional tendencies and anxiety. I would even go as far to say that most of the things that are expected of them as adults in the 21st century will put to trial an immense strength of attention, detail, and will, which at the very least could be characterized as obsessional. The same sort of strength is also proving to be necessary for our youth to be competitive on an international level in science, technology, medicine, and many other practices; seemingly a prerequisite for fostering the world's leading technology industry, the most recognizable media industry in the world, and a cultural powerhouse in all respects. So when we raise children, naturally they are predisposed to these cultural affects.
A targeted effort of reducing anxiety is actually difficult too, because many people learn to associate the act of ruminating with a sense of security; the idea that you are mulling over something becomes the thing that assures you that you're okay, but by that point the self-placating act has evolved into a compulsion. Behavioral therapies are not easy to apply; any prescriptive behavior can easily become its own compulsion, and it's difficult to have someone lower their expectations for themselves.
And still we must know to kindle the flame. Some of the people, some of the time, are destined for this life. I know that the greatest service we can offer is guidance, temperance, and the tools necessary to succeed.
We will take upon ourselves their suffering, so that they should be nascent and clean spirits. We will see on their behalf. And when we see that they bear the mark, we will show them what it means to be forged of flame, and we will remind them that they will never walk alone.
The circus got off easily. We burn at both ends.
Most days are marked by tension in my body and mind, a restlessness that I could only hope to sequester away to the shadows of silence, away from the people I love so dearly. But you taught me to love, more than seven years ago in the dark of night. You showed me to use my words. And you woke me up again.
My mood swings throughout the course of a day. In the early mornings, life feels so short, and by the afternoon it feels unbearably long. The pain is not simply for the moment, but the bittersweet fleeting of the sparks of joy and peace that find me each day. The pendulum of life swings so wildly, as if to kindle the flame on its own.
On this road home, my faithful prayer is for love and peace in my heart, a place for this fire to live among all things beautiful in this world. A blissful moment, in nature, in beauty, and in the light, where I am weightless, and where I feel free. I pray every day for peace to find me in my heart. Blackened, bruised, as it has always been; vile, and nearly undeserving of anything but pain. And still I will pray so long and so hard, for the rest of my life if I must, that my heart will know love and peace like it has never known before.